Jacksonville, FL — After two days of testimony- where the State called 19 witnesses and the defense didn’t call any- closing arguments this morning aimed to solidify the case for the prosecution, while the defense waived its right to present an argument.
Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel delivered the closing for the State, acknowledging immediately that the defense said in their opening statement that prosecutors would try to make this case about emotion. Caliel says if jurors feel angry, it’s not because of what prosecutors say, it’s because of the evidence the jury has seen.
“Speak to what the truth is about what happened to Cherish Perrywinkle. Reason should guide your deliberations,” Caliel said.
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Caliel gave another overview of the injuries Cherish suffered ahead of her death, including holding up a binder that contained autopsy photos that jurors were walked through during the trial.
“I can publish these photos. You’ll have them back in the jury room. But I suspect you never want to look at these photographs again. Those images will forever be a part of you. They will forever be a part of your memory, burned into your memory,” Caliel says.
He further recounted for the jury that the girl's mother hoped Smith was a Good Samaritan, helping her buy clothes for her children.
"He looks like a harmless old man. Little did she know what lurked beneath the surface," Caliel said.
He says Smith had no reason to be at the Dollar General- except to prey on the family- and that Smith knew what he was doing at that Walmart, when he offered to get food for the family and then walked out of the store, with the girl following.
“Cheeseburgers. That’s the last word that Rayne Perrywinkle got to say to her little girl,” Caliel said.
He further praised the bystanders who submitted tips about the location of Smith's van, calling them heroes. Caliel then again recounted for the jury not only how Smith was apprehended and Cherish found, but how the evidence was preserved and tested.
“An exact match around her neck, where he strangled her to death. His DNA, nobody else’s,” Caliel said about DNA samples taken from Cherish’s remains.
The State also again played some of the covertly recorded Jail coversation Smith had with another inmate, where he talks about a young teen girl visiting the Jail being in his "target area".
Caliel then asked the jury to sit and quietly reflect for three minutes, while occasionally reminding them of things he wanted them to think about.
“That’s how long it took, at a minimum, to take her life while she fought, while she bled, while every last breath left her body,” Caliel said.
The defense waived its closing argument, so the Judge is now instructing the jury, and deliberations will then begin.
WOKV and Action News Jax will have full coverage as the verdict comes in. Stay with us through the day.